Fan Focus: City Chat Ahead Of Crucial Clash

Denis Doyle

For this midweek's Fan Focus we speak to David Money from the excellent Blue Moon Podcast.

So, tell us about your season so far. Things appear to be going very well indeed under Manuel Pellegrini thus far...

David Mooney: Yeah, we've had very little to complain about this season so far. Pellegrini took a while to settle in, more away from home than anything else, but he's been adamant about the style of play we use. He switched to a basic 4-4-2 and it took a while for it to take effect, and, with only one or two exceptions, it's been very successful.

We've been scoring goals like never before (though you're catching us on a barren run having fired two blanks in the last two games!) and he's been getting the best out of previously under-performing players like Dzeko or Nasri.

City have been in scintillating form going forward, but have failed to score in the last two games. Is this nothing more than a blip or are teams beginning to figure out how to stop the juggernaut that's been created?

DM: I think the last two games are more of a blip than anything else - the blank against Chelsea wasn't unexpected as they've been very good defensively this season and we've had problems with fit players in the centre of midfield. And when you can't keep the ball against Chelsea, you're in trouble, as Hazard et al proved.

As for Norwich, we were well below par offensively, but they deserve a lot of credit for not allowing us space once we'd got to their box. As with Fulham at Old Trafford, it's a good tactic against City, but if we were to score it could open the floodgates as it's a lot of effort to maintain that type of intensity.

The praises of Aguero, Negredo, Toure and so on are sung regularly, but who would you say has been an ‘unsung' hero of the season so far for you lot?

DM: The biggest and possibly most important player for City this season has been Fernandinho. He's been the biggest miss of the last two games, as he's the anchor that allows Toure to move forward.

We've not particularly played with defensive midfielders this season, but when one of Toure or Fernandinho moves forward, the other holds base to keep the shape should we lose possession.

The pair link up like I've never seen from two centre-midfielders, too - they've played six or seven one touch passes with each other to get out of a tight spot on more than a few occasions.

Of course our teams meet again in a few weeks at Wembley. Is it being as fondly looked forward to as it is on Wearside, or is the League Cup ‘small fry' now?

DM: I think you won't find too many City fans that consider the League Cup final ‘small fry' - aside from the 2012 Premier League and the 2011 FA Cup wins, we've been a bit starved of success on the trophy front... 1976 was the last time before that and that was the League Cup, too.

We can't really afford to be picky about what competitions we do well in, so I think a lot of fans will be looking forward to the final!

With big games on the horizon against Chelsea and Barcelona, do you think we'll see a changed Manchester City lineup on Wednesday?

DM: I think we might, but the only problem with that is the number of players we currently have injured! It's likely that Aguero, Nasri, Fernandinho, and Garcia will all be unavailable, while Milner, Negredo and Dzeko have all been playing carrying niggles and knocks, and Jovetic is only just back from about three months out... So we might see some rotation at the back, but I think the chances are Pellegrini will pick the strongest team he's got available to him, plus one or two coming back from injury to give them some fitness.

What have you made of Sunderland's resurgence (of sorts) under Gus Poyet?

DM: It worries me! You're something of a bogey team for us - admittedly away from the Etihad, but even in the year we won the league you were the only team to stop us from winning at home. And, of course, a big part of your resurgence has been Adam Johnson, so I guess it's just made for him to come back and haunt us!

Do you think our side can give City any problems at all on Wednesday, and if so who would you single out as a difference maker?

DM: I think Sunderland can cause us some problems, but I think the worst thing that could have happened is that City have failed to score in the two games leading up to it. I get the feeling Pellegrini is going to go for the throat after two disappointing results.

As I said before, I think Adam Johnson has been on fire recently and he's going to be a problem for us if he can keep up that form.

What's your prediction for this week's game?

DM: After we've been feeling a bit fragile after two blanks, I hope we can bounce back with a good 3-0 win.

You can hear more from David on a regular basis over on the Blue Moon Podcast. Well worth a listen to scout the opposition, especially ahead of our Wembley clash! Give it a listen HERE!

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